Happily Ever in the Afterlife

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Here are some things I love: Greek mythology (remainder of a childhood spent reading everything I could get my grubby little hands on), comics (same), and romance (again…same). And Rachel Smythe’s “Lore Olympus” is that perfect amalgamation of all three, blending the three into a beautifully drawn and painted webcomic that will hit the sweet spot of any nerdy romantic.

 

Smythe has created a world where the gods are forward thinking, yet every bit as mired in the past as the mortals over whom they preside. In her Olympus, the Gods troll around in convertibles and scroll the internet on Pomegranate series laptops, working their office jobs at Underworld CORP, all in a vibrant, saturated watercolor-style. Olympus does not feel like ruins, and the gods do not feel like relics. Their problems feel realistic; as in the original myths, the gods are…amorous and complicated as ever, but the stories are never played as soapy. Occasionally, plots do veer into events that might be traumatic for readers. Some trigger warnings apply (sexual assault, domestic abuse, as of this date).

 

Hades and Persephone are having a bit of a moment in pop culture, as evidenced by the Tony-award winning musical “Hadestown” and a spate of memes referencing the myth. What is it about the two that draws such interest? Are a generation of English majors trying to reclaim a previously traumatic tale? Or is there something appealing about Hades, the king of the Underworld, come to take you away from all this? Do we — those of us who are attracted to Hades, who sigh at the idea of him — want our own Plutonian lord of the Afterlife? Or are we the awkward, misunderstood melancholic looking for a flower queen? Or vice versa, or both? Every good romance resides in the characters- the reader must like them, must want them to be happy, specifically with each other. Hades, as portrayed by Smythe, is a modern classical hero- handsome and broody, wealthy and powerful, but anxious and bumbling when it comes to romance. Persephone is a young woman trying to outrun her helicopter mom and figure out what she wants for herself. Hades provides so much smolder, and Persephone is the epitome of a cinnamon roll. Together, the two offer enough mutual pining to spark any romance fan (and enough slow burn to keep your interest piqued, despite the assurance that- yes, this is a romance- there will be a Happily Ever After).

 

As for me, I’m perfectly happy to click there on Sundays, absorbing every beautiful moment in Olympus. I know what happens. I’ve read the myth. But I want to see how Smythe creates that happy ending.

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